Odawa held their 27th annual Pow Wow from May 23rd to 25th in Ottawa. It was to be held at the Nepean Tent and Trailer Park, but Mother Nature had other plans and moved the gathering to a local skating arena. The move caused a two-hour delay on the Saturday but was enjoyed by all. There were about 20 booths offering their wares inside, as well as 5 food vendors just outside the door. There, visitors could enjoy the regular fare of buffalo burgers, white tail fish and of course the fresh lemonade and strawberry juices. Although the days activities were a bit behind schedule, the dancers nor the visitors seemed to mind the delay, much preferring the dry floors and seats to the muddy wet grounds of the park. There were 166 registered dancers participating in the event, who came from all over Canada as well as the United States. They were beautiful as they demonstrated their skills in footwork, poise, strength and originality, while showing the art and beauty of their incredibly labour intensive regalia. There were 9 drum groups from across the country as well, including Waswanipi’s own Washeswan. They kept the beat and sang their hearts out. The competitions went on with only one hitch; they forgot the ‘tiny tots’ dance in all the confusion of moving to the new location. There were ample intertribal dances to encourage everyone to participate.

Sunday saw the rain let up a little. The announcers apologized for leaving out the tiny tots and called them all to dance. While the older professional dancers know how to put on a show, it is always delightful to see those 5 and under emulating their teachers. They bounce, hop, twirl or cautiously walk around the floor, not only to the pride of their families, but also to the delight of all onlookers.

The little ones had a special place in the hearts and minds of the organizers this year. Special mention was made to look out for them and care for them in the opening prayers after the Grand Entry. During which time a scared little girl in her first Grand Entry wandered around crying. The reason for the celebration of children was that an agreement had been reached on a Protocol between the officials of the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa and the Odawa Native Friendship Centre. The Protocol was signed in a special ceremony during the pow wow. It was developed for Odawa’s Aboriginal Healthy Babies, Healthy Children (AHBHC) program to be mutually respectful and highly cooperative. The AHBHC program is designed to ensure that all Aboriginal families and their children (preconception to age 6) who are at risk of physical, emotional, mental and social problems have access to effective, consistent and early intervention services. The Protocol will permit cooperation on matters such as joint home visits and will ensure that every effort will be made for services to be provided in a culturally sensitive matter. There will also be provisions for cross-cultural awareness training.